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Wake Hospice maps future

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By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Hospice of Wake County has named an executive director and is developing plans that could lead to construction of residential facilities financed through a capital campaign.

John Thoma, chief financial officer since 1991, has been named executive director, succeeding Michael Hale, who resigned in May after a year on the job to join Community Properties in Rocky Mount.

Hospice, which provides end-of-life services for roughly 900 terminally ill individuals a year and their families, is working with two Chapel Hill consultants.

Health Planning Source is helping Hospice assess the need for its services and develop a business plan, while John Chapin, formerly major gifts officer for Triangle United Way, is helping to develop a fundraising strategy.

Tentative plans a year ago called for building a 20-bed facility and mounting a capital campaign of roughly $6 million.

But with the economic downturn and a growing influx of Asian, Hispanic and older residents, options now include building several smaller facilities, possibly in phases.

“We’re looking at whether we need to develop new programs or service areas as the demographics of the area change, and that may impact where our locations are going to be,” Thoma says.

The facilities likely would include permanent quarters for Hospice, which rents offices on St. Mary’s Street in Raleigh.

Hospice services range from nursing visits and helping clients manage their medications, symptoms and daily chores to psychological, social, spiritual and grief counseling.

A big challenge, Thoma says, is to overcome continuing reluctance to deal with end-of-life issues.

“There comes a point when we should be talking about hospice, but it’s still taboo,” he says. “The quality of life and the end of life are being neglected in favor of constant aggressive treatment right until the end.”

Hospice has named Robin Temple, former volunteer coordinator, as director of community relations, a new post overseeing development.

Kit Boney, who helped raised money for the Yates Mill restoration project, has been named development counsel, replacing Donna Tate, who resigned in February as development director.

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